I don’t envy Rob Hennigan.
Here’s your dream job, you are the new general manager of the Orlando Magic. Now all you have to do is trade our superstar center and try to get some reasonable level of value back, hire a new head coach, start a massive rebuilding project and chart a totally new direction for the organization.
To quote Miracle Max, “have fun storming the castle.”
And all the while, you can count on taking fire from fans and media. Because the Dwight Howard situation has dragged out past its prime worse than “Grey’s Anatomy.” And because the coaching search is still ongoing, down to three candidates.
Former Magic big man Shaquille O’Neal tweeted he is none to impressed.
It’s Shaq, so on one level you can pretty much disregard this as you might most of his opinions. But what he is saying here echoes what you hear around the league. The clear frontrunner for the Magic job is former NBA player Jacque Vaughn, who has been a Spurs assistant coach the last two years. That’s the start of a nice pedigree. But it’s far less experience than guys like Brian Shaw and Mike Malone, both of whom deserve a shot soon. Nobody is quite sure what the Magic are doing on any front.
But Hennigan is the guy who has to live with his decision, so he needs to make the one that he is most comfortable with. And he knows full well he has to live with the consequences, also.
It was the conventional wisdom at the time that if the Lakers had won the 2004 NBA title — they lost in the finals to the Detroit Pistons and their stifling defense — that Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal would have stuck it out together to chase more titles. The “winning cures all ills” theory.
Kobe says not so fast.
Speaking with Yahoo’s Graham Bensinger in a must-watch interview for Kobe fans, the star said it was over when he heard chatter out of Shaq’s camp that Kobe couldn’t win without Shaq.
“It just wasn’t going to work. It wasn’t in the cards,” Bryant said. “There’s things that I wanted to do with my career and take my career to another level, that I was just incapable of doing as long as we were playing together….
“It just wasn’t going to work, so no matter what happened, even if we had won that championship, me being a free agent, there was just no way.”
Kobe took — and in some quarters still takes — some grief for breaking up those Lakers. But the fact is what Kobe did because he had the hammer of free agency was exactly what Shaq would have done if he had that hammer. They were done with it. Phil Jackson couldn’t keep them together. So Buss made the only logical choice and traded Shaq, convincing Kobe to re-sign. You always choose the younger player with the better work ethic and who took better physical care of himself.
Kobe also sounded sympathetic to the place Jackson was in with that three-peat team.
“The relationship between me and Shaq,” Kobe said. “Him having to deal with that relationship and kind of keeping me at arm’s distance so that, in turn, it can bring him closer to Shaq. And he was dealing with a young racehorse that wanted to get to an elite level very fast… we all three are very stubborn. “”
Kobe said his relationship with Jackson needed to be repaired when Phil came back to the Lakers. It was a matter of communication styles.
“I said, ‘Phil, if you want me to do something, just tell me.’” Kobe said. “He kind of likes subtly slipping messages in there. Where, for me, it’s like just tell me what it is you want. Don’t insult my intelligence by trying to backdoor in there.”
I’m not sure which is a stranger idea — that there will be a “Grown Ups 2” or that Shaquille O’Neal will star in it.
But both of those things are happening, according to the Boston Globe (via IamaGM.com).
Retired NBA star Shaquille O’Neal will costar in the sequel to Adam Sandler’s comedy, “Grown Ups,’’ which was filmed in Essex a few years ago. In addition to the 7-foot-1 Shaq, the new movie, which will be shot in Marblehead this summer, will include original cast members Sandler, Chris Rock, Kevin James, David Spade, Salma Hayek, and Maria Bello.
I suppose I shouldn’t be shocked that there is a Grown Ups sequel after it grossed $162 million domestic. I just don’t know anybody that actually saw it. Or liked it.
Shaq was pretty good in “Blue Chips,” which is one of those movies I love to find pop up on cable and always get sucked into it. Of course, there was always “Kazaam,” but as Shaq told GQ:
“I was a medium-level juvenile delinquent from Newark who always dreamed about doing a movie. Someone said, ‘Hey, here’s $7 million, come in and do this genie movie.’ What am I going to say, no?”
No word on what Shaq is getting paid for this movie, although at this point I don’t really think he does things just for the money.
“We haven’t had any irony here since about, uh, ’83, when I was the only practitioner of it. And I stopped because I was tired of being stared at.”
—Steve Martin in Roxanne
Shaquille O’Neal digs irony. Can you dig it?
In a press conference with other TNT broadcasters on Tuesday, Shaquille O’Neal said Dwight Howard leaving Orlando would be a “travesty.”
Shaq explained that this is totally different than when he screwed over Orlando and left as a player because he left when the Lakers could (and did) offer more money. But now Orlando can offer more than any other team (one more guaranteed year and larger raises between years for a total of about $30 million) so why would Howard want to leave money on the table?
“I think they have to be a little bit worried that he hasn’t committed to signing, so there may be an underlying problem of what’s really going on,” Shaq said. “I don’t know if he doesn’t like the organization, I don’t know if he wants to go to a bigger city where he can get more endorsement deals, he can do movies. No one really knows the problem.”
There’s one other question Shaq left out: Can he win a ring in Orlando. Shaq left to get his… but this is totally different.
From NBA.com’s Scott Howard-Cooper:
Indications are Lakers will retire
@Shaq uniform No. 34 next season. Brief delay due to rush of schedule, not any doubt it would happen.
O’Neal, who retired after last season, played for the Lakers from 1996-2004, and is still currently the only player to win a championship after signing a max contract with another team in free agency. During his time with the Lakers, O’Neal won 3 Finals MVPs, 3 championships, and distinguished himself as one of the greatest centers of all time. He also famously feuded with Kobe Bryant, and was traded for Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, and Brian Grant the day before Bryant, then a free-agent, re-signed with the Lakers. The move appeared to hurt the Lakers in the short-term, as they missed the playoffs the year after trading Shaq and O’Neal won a championship with Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat in 2006.
However, the move worked out for the Lakers in the long run, as they won 2 championships after trading for Pau Gasol, with Bryant winning the Finals MVP award both times. Due to O’Neal’s penchant for burning bridges, it may have seemed like there was a possibility that no team would retire his jersey, but it looks like the Lakers will allow O’Neal to join an exclusive club that includes players like Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, and Elgin Baylor.